TipAndPick's: Tips and Picks, DK Edition

Cash game and GPP selections for DraftKings

For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.

Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.

TIPS...

In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to consider the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.

CASH GAME TIPS

LIMIT YOUR CASH GAME PLAY! 

Over the past few seasons, cash games have gotten increasingly difficult to beat over the long-term. That trend can be blamed squarely on the availability of good information that was previously not readily available. Today, however, there are an abundance of data, tools, and articles on various websites that make constructing cash game lineups a straightforward endeavor. Like last weekend, I am urging you to limit the amount of cash game action that you put into play because the overlap that occurs on smaller game sets, like Divisional Playoff Weekend, is absurd; Ezekiel Elliott, LeVeon Bell, Davante Adams, and Julio Jones are all going to be > 30% owned on this four game slate. As a result of this massive ownership overlap, the difference between winning and losing will often distill down to one or two players’ performance, which is less than optimal because of the variance associated with NFL scoring. The edge associated with playing DFS is far less defined on a shorter slate because there are less mistakes that can be made. With this in mind, I would encourage you to play less volume than you typically play on an NFL slate and also direct you to play a bit more of your cash game action in head-to-head contests, where you are not likely facing an all-or-nothing outcome.

GPP TIPS

WINNING A TOURNAMENT ON A LIMITED SLATE: 

Because there are only four games from which to choose your players for tournaments this weekend, GPP strategy becomes quite contrasted from a typical full-slate NFL weekend. First, do not concern yourself with spending your entire salary cap; the winners of tournaments this weekend will almost assuredly not spend their allotted $50K and most will probably spend less than 95% of that amount. The reason is simple, yet goes underappreciated, because we have grown accustomed to focusing on spending all of our salary cap in every week leading up to the playoffs; doing so on a limited slate will shoehorn your roster to resemble 90% of the rosters entered this weekend, which largely eliminates any uniqueness that you might otherwise try to construct for your tournaments. Instead, try to leave a few thousand dollars on the table, which will force you to roster players that others are ignoring.

As a corollary to the previous point about spending less on your GPP rosters, you must have exposure to that one or two players who is less than 10% owned, but manages to get into the endzone at a $3K-4K price point. Think of names like Geronimo Allison, Paul Richardson, Michael Floyd, or Dion Lewis, all of whom will be overshadowed by their workhorse stablemates, but still stand a chance to score a touchdown at low ownership; if you choose the correct dark horse candidate at low ownership, while the masses are flocked on a player who is 40% owned and has a disappointing day, you will be primed for a top-end GPP finish. Of course, preemptively identifying that one or two players who get into the endzone is the tricky part of that equation.

Cliffs Notes Summary: Force yourself to spend under the salary cap by taking a flyer on a cheaper player who you foresee as having a chance to put up a decent day at lower ownership. Clicking ‘submit’ on that roster will not be easy, but I have always stated that if you feel confident clicking ‘submit’ on a GPP roster, then it’s probably not a good (i.e., winning) GPP roster. Best of luck!

...AND PICKS

Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. There is little difference in terms of strength of selection between those players who have text to justify their appearance in this article versus those in the "also eligible" section; all are strong plays in their respective categories, but time and space restrictions do not allow for expansive written summaries of every player listed.

 

QUARTERBACKS

 

CASH: If not for multiple dropped passes by Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard last weekend, the Green Bay Packers secondary would have allowed four consecutive 300-yard games with multiple touchdown passes allowed entering this week's matchup against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott has posted multiple scores in six of his previous seven games in Dallas, averaging 37.1% more DraftKings points at home than on the road this season. The last time these teams met in Week #6 in Green Bay, Prescott logged three touchdowns en route to an easy 30-16 romp over the Packers; at only $6.0K, he is the premier cash game play on Divisional Playoff weekend and is also in play as a tournament quarterback despite the fact that he will be the highest-owned quarterback on the weekend (~ 20-25%). Alex Smith is inexpensive and a possible alternative, particularly if you want to get LeVeon Bell's $10.3K salary into your lineups, but paying a $600 premium for Prescott makes the most sense in a game that has a higher scoring potential. Lastly, Tom Brady is certainly an option, but his premium salary will likely sabotage the remainder of your cash game lineups, so the opportunity cost is likely too high.

GPP: Due to his exorbitant salary, Tom Brady is going to be low-owned this weekend despite having the highest implied team total on the Vegas board. It might make sense to run "Super Stacks" with Brady and two lower-end receivers like Michael Floyd and Danny Amendola, both of whom will cost you a grand total of $7.3K and could go underowned due to bigger names like Julian Edelman and Martellus Bennett garnering the attention of DFS players looking for stacks. The matchup against the Texans is not optimal, as Houston boasts the 5th best DVOA pass defense, but Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have had two weeks to prepare for this matchup and they should have no troubles plucking apart the Texans in Foxborough. Look for the masses to go after Matt Ryan and/or Aaron Rodgers, both of whom exited the regular season terrorizing the league. Ryan will face a Seattle defense that has struggled on the road this season and will be without one of their best players, Safety Earl Thomas; Rodgers is coming off another excellent game against the Giants last Sunday, but will be without his favorite target, Jordy Nelson, in an unfriendly venue against the NFC #1 seed, the Dallas Cowboys. Each of these options possesses 300-yard upside, but do not forget about Russell Wilson who is likely going to be chasing points all game against a Falcons defense that has forced opposing quarterbacks to throw more often (40.9 attempts per game) than any other team in the league, not to mention a whopping 31 passing touchdowns (5th most in the NFL).

NAMESALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKCOMMENTS
Dak Prescott $6.0K 1 4 Expect Capers to stack box & force Dak to beat them
Alex Smith $5.4K 2 6 Low ceiling but price mandates consideration in cash
Tom Brady $7.6K 3 1 Pricey but as much upside as any QB on the slate
Russell Wilson $6.9K N/A 2 Could be asked to do heavy-lifting if trailing
Matt Ryan $7.0K N/A 3 Shredded SEA in Week #6; home venue helps
Aaron Rodgers $8.2K N/A 5 ARod's numbers w/out Jordy are less impressive
Brock Osweiler $5.0K N/A 7 Will be throwing all day but can he hit receivers?
Ben Roethlisberger $6.5K N/A 8 Don't like the venue or the matchup; avoiding

RUNNING BACKS
 

CASH: The trick will not be identifying the best cash game running backs--it will be building out the remainder of your lineup in such a way that you are not taking extreme chances with cheaply priced receivers. Without question, you are going to want to try to get Ezekiel Elliott and LeVeon Bell into your cash game lineups, but the opportunity cost of doing so may be too high to justify that decision. If you have to take too many chances with sub-$4K receivers, it might be smarter to drop down from either Bell or Elliott to Devonta Freeman, who has been lights out at home this season; doing so will save you at least $2.6K (Elliott) with almost a 50% price drop from Bell's $10.3K price tag. Our Footballguys' projections have Spencer Ware coming in around the requisite 3x value needed to justify his consideration for cash game rosters, but I have some concerns that Charcandrick West might steal more time from Ware than most people are currently acknowledging.

GPP: Finding a low-owned gem on a slate with only four games is next-to-impossible, but you might consider Dion Lewis at only $3.9K. Lewis has double-digit touches in three consecutive games and has been heavily-used inside the redzone with nine touches in the Pats' last two games of the season; that said, Lewis remains scoreless on the season and could be in store for some positive regression as the Pats begin their Super Bowl run. Devonta Freeman's ownership numbers are going to be interesting because he has a plus gamescript against the league's 2nd ranked DVOA rush defense; the opportunity for a big game should be there for Freeman, but the matchup might scare away enough DFS players to make him a nice GPP play. At only $3.4K, Charcandrick West is an intriguing tournament play because he wrapped up his season with 36 touches over the Chiefs' last two games; Spencer Ware is expected to regain the lead back role in this weekend's matchup against the Steelers, but West could legitimately get 10+ touches at a price point that would render that kind of volume acceptable.  Lastly, C.J. Prosise could be yet another GPP option coming off an extended six-week absence due to a shoulder injury; he should see action on third downs and passing situations against Atlanta, who finished the season with the league's 29th ranked DVOA rush defense. In DraftKings' full-PPR scoring format, it would not be surprising to see Prosise finish this game with 6+ receptions and 50+ receiving yards; if he gets into the endzone, he would shatter the 4x multiplier necessary for tournament play on DraftKings.

NAMESALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKCOMMENTS
Ezekiel Elliott $8.5K 1 4 Destroyed GB on their home turf in Week #6
LeVeon Bell $10.5K 2 5 Always in play; opportunity cost is sky-high
Devonta Freeman $5.9K 3 1 12 of 14 TD's at home; SEA allowed 5 rush TD's in Week #16/17
Spencer Ware $5.2K 4 8 Should see lion's share of carries; affordable w/+ gamescript
Dion Lewis $3.9K N/A 2 Been highly-used in redzone as of late; sneaky GPP option
Charcandrick West $3.4K N/A 3 Monitor news reports--upside is there with volume
LeGarrette Blount $5.8K N/A 6 Blount has 9 scores when Pats won by 14+; limited receptions
Tevin Coleman $4.5K N/A 7 Always underowned makes him intriguing GPP flyer
C.J. Prosise $4.2K N/A 9 Returns with gamescript that favors his pass-catching abilities
Thomas Rawls $6.9K N/A 10 ATL: 29th DVOA rush D; price & gamescript are concerns
Ty Montgomery $5.3K N/A 11 Has not done anything outside of outlier versus CHI in Week #15
Christine Michael $4.3K N/A 12 Limited by GB's insistence on using Montgomery as lead RB
Lamar Miller $5.6K N/A 13 Pats have not allowed rush TD since Week #8; - gamescript

WIDE RECEIVERS
 

CASH: Most cash game rosters on DraftKings are going to be chock-full of cheaper options this weekend, so as to slot in the more expensive running backs on this limited game slate. Of those options, Terrance Williams tops the list because of his continued high snap count (70.4% of Cowboys' offensive snaps) and the matchup against the Packers' 22nd ranked DVOA pass defense. After Williams, the options are not as clear because the safest receivers cannot be paired with the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and LeVeon Bell, forcing cash game players to take a few chances with names like Randall Cobb (versus Orlando Scandrick; 27th of 120 cornerbacks on ProFootballFocus), Jermaine Kearse (losing snaps to Paul Richardson every week), and/or Geronimo Allison (undrafted free agent rookie). Each of those players are valid selections, but you will have to decide which make you most comfortable if you are going with Zeke and LeVeon at the running back position. If you are rolling with Devonta Freeman over one of Bell or Elliott, you can then afford a name like Julian Edelman, who has been an absolute volume monster since Rob Gronkowski went on the injured reserve back in Week #10; over that period of time, Edelman is averaging 7.1 receptions, 92.7 receiving yards, and 0.3 touchdowns per game (18.1 DraftKings points per game). DeAndre Hopkins should see intense volume in a gamescript that favors 40+ Brock Osweiler passes against a Pats secondary that is 23rd in the league against the pass (DVOA), but there is always risk in rostering a receiver that relies on Osweiler to find him in space. That said, Hopkins is cash game viable strictly because of likely garbage time production; it would not be surprising to see him pick up double-digit fantasy points in the final stages of the game.

GPP: As was the case last week (with Paul Richardson, who was recommended in this column), the difference between winning and losing tournaments will be nailing down a foundation of highly-owned players with good performances, but supplementing that foundation with low-owned (< 15%) receivers who manage to put up surprising games. This weekend, you should be looking at names like Eli Rogers, Geronimo Allison, and Michael Floyd at that end of the spectrum. Tournaments will be compelling where wide receivers are concerned because the number of cheap running backs with upside is limited, which will pigeon hole a lot of DFS players into spending up at RB and saving at WR; that formula could result in lower than normal ownership on expensive players like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Davante Adams. Of those options, Julio Jones is potentially the best option because Kyle Shanahan will scheme to get him away from Richard Sherman in coverage, not to mention the fact that Jones has been largely matchup-proof all season. Do not sleep on Dez Bryant as a leverage play away from Zeke Elliott, either; if Elliott is nearly 50% owned and somehow stumbles against the Packers, it could mean that Bryant had a multiple touchdown day against a Packers secondary that is not nearly as good as they displayed last Sunday. There are about ~ 20 wide receivers who are in play as GPP options this weekend, which makes discussing each one impossible, but that list can be found below...any player(s) ranked lower than #12 can be thought of as roughly the same value.

NAMESALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKCOMMENTS
Terrance Williams $3.1K 1 8 This is where to save salary; volume & matchup are there
Randall Cobb $5.7K 2 9 Will have to carry load w/out Jordy; discounted from Adams
Julian Edelman $6.8K 3 3 Nearly 13 targets/game since Gronk went on I.R.
DeAndre Hopkins $5.8K 4 14 TD is unlikely but will pick up receptions during garbage time
Jermaine Kearse $3.3K 5 17 Role is dwindling but cost-to-volume cannot be ignored
Geronimo Allison $3.9K 6 10 GB receiver with 80+% of snaps at $3.9K? Sign me up
Davante Adams $7.0K 7 12 FBG projections are a bit high (IMO); upside is there for GPP\'s
Paul Richardson $4.1K 8 4 Trending upwards with positive gamescript & matchup
Julio Jones $8.4K N/A 1 Limited RB options will make JJ underowned despite 2 TD upside
Dez Bryant $6.6K N/A 2 Excellent at home with stellar matchup; affordable
Michael Floyd $3.8K N/A 5 Intriguing at $3.8K if Malcolm Mitchell sits
Antonio Brown $9.6K N/A 6 Ownership will be low due to price; tough to justify over Bell
Doug Baldwin $8.1K N/A 7 Continues to be focal point of offense; plus gamescript
Chris Hogan $3.9K N/A 11 GPP play because he is overlooked due to Edelman & Co.
Eli Rogers $3.9K N/A 13 Possible GPP option after burning many DFS players last weekend
Tyreek Hill $5.5K N/A 15 Burner is always a GPP option; a bit pricey for likely volume
Mohamed Sanu $4.0K N/A 16 Scored in first meeting vs. SEA; always a threat in redzone
Jeremy Maclin $4.3K N/A 18 Disappointing season; GPP-only
Chris Conley $3.0K N/A 19 Price is attractive; not used often enough to merit high ownership
Danny Amendola $3.5K N/A 20 Playing only 32% of snaps this season; limit your ownership
Will Fuller $3.6K N/A 21 Fuller's and Osweiler's skillsets are diametrically-opposed
Cole Beasley $5.0K N/A 22 Usage has been trending downwards; price is too high
Taylor Gabriel $4.4K N/A 23 Coming back from foot injury; prefer Sanu at $400 discount

TIGHT ENDS
 

CASH & GPP: Options are more limited for tight ends, which is why you are seeing the commentary for cash games and tournament play being lumped into a singular paragraph. Travis Kelce is probably the highest-upside tight end on the entire slate against the Steelers, who have yielded big games to the position for most of the season; however, his $6.1K salary is restrictive for cash games on a weekend where DraftKings' salary algorithm made things difficult. Behind Kelce, you might consider Jason Witten or Jared Cook, both of whom have sub-$4K salaries and face a defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in defending the position. Cook brings higher upside, which is why he is the #1 selection for tournament play, but Witten should finish with a stat line that results in ~ 10 fantasy points for a modest $3.5K salary. For tournament play, Jimmy Graham is a compelling option when one considers he finished with a 6/89/0 stat line (9 targets) when these same teams met back in Week #6. The Texans' tight ends are also GPP possibilities because of the likely gamescript and Brock Osweiler's propensity to throw to the position; their scoring upside is probably limited, but their respective salaries do not mandate that they score to achieve GPP value. Lastly, do not sleep on Austin Hooper, who returns from injury and was the league's second-highest targeted rookie tight end behind only Hunter Henry this season.

NAMESALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKCOMMENTS
Jason Witten $3.5K 1 6 Scoring upside is limited but 5/50/0 seems reasonable
Travis Kelce $6.1K 2 2 Best TE play of the weekend if salary is not considered
Jared Cook $3.9K 3 1 8 or more targets in 3 of past 4 games; DAL susceptible to TE's
Jimmy Graham $4.9K N/A 3 Could benefit from Baldwin facing ATL's best DB (Poole)
C.J. Fiedorowicz $3.6K N/A 4 Still heavily targeted; gamecript sets up for extra volume
Austin Hooper $2.9K N/A 5 Back from injury; a TD makes him GPP-worthy
Ryan Griffin $2.6K N/A 7 HOU: Lots of two-TE sets recently; low ownership
Martellus Bennett $4.0K N/A 8 HOU: 3rd best vs. TE's. Easier paths for NE to score.
Ladarius Green $3.8K N/A 9 DNP on Friday; KC is tough against TE's; complete fade

TEAM DEFENSES
 

CASH & GPP: It is going to be very, very difficult to get away from the Patriots defense in daily fantasy this weekend. There are five teams projected to score 21+ points, while the Texans' team total is sitting right around 14 points. Of the four games, two of them are slated to be high-scoring affairs (50+ point Vegas totals), which leaves limited reasonable options for fantasy play. This might be a weekend to just bite the bullet and pay up for the most expensive defense on the board (Patriots at $4.0K) and build around them; in tournament play, you could justify saving some money with the Falcons at home against a Seahawks team that has stumbled on the road several times this season or even with the Chiefs at home because of Andy Reid's ridiculous 16-2 record with two weeks to prepare for a game. After those options, it gets very dicey and you should tread carefully.

NAMESALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKCOMMENTS
Patriots $4.0K 1 1 Without question the best defensive option this weekend
Falcons $2.6K 2 3 SEA has implosion potential on road (Ask the Bucs/Rams/Cards)
Chiefs $3.4K N/A 2 Reid's record with extra week of prep is 16-2; bad weather helps
Steelers $2.9K N/A 4 Weather concerns could keep game under control
Seahawks $3.0K N/A 5 Not much to like vs. ATL at home (35.0 PPG in 2016)
Packers $2.8K N/A 6 Pressure situation vs. young QB: Anything is possible
Cowboys $2.7K N/A 7 Boring defense; low sacks & turnovers
Texans $2.3K N/A 8 Not a chance